Perhaps the contestants did not ride in limos or walk a red carpet, but the youth were just as charming as the contestants at the Academy Awards. Some were nervous, others were shy and some were just happy to compete and show. This year’s oratorical contest was held at the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District administration building on March 6.
The contestants had to have prepared a speech four to five minutes in length titled “How My Passion Impacts the World” as part of the Windsor Optimist Oratorical Contest for the 2013-14 year. This year, we chaired five boys and 16 girls for a total of 21 youth under the age of 19, for a chance to compete for the grand prize of a $2,500 scholarship.
Dr. Rob Bradley introduced the boys and Keith Olfzewski introduced the girls. All contestants were introduced by letter until the end of the speeches and the winners were announced. The boys went first this year. Each one identified his passion and was very passionate about his topic. One of the boys related to us that his passion was laughter and joy. He said “happiness affects the world.”
Another boy said his passion was knowledge and he wanted to use his knowledge to help the world. One of the boys said that music can impact the world in a positive or negative way. He spoke about national pride and said music was a gateway for people. A 10-year-old fourth-grader said his passion was sports and the positive attitude of athletes. He gave the examples of Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning and said when they were facing adversity they took the high road.
Jack Ridout was the high school winner for his age group. Ashton Dickson was the second runner-up. Luke Kershner was the third runner-up. Ted Davies was the fourth runner-up. The overall winner for the boys was Ryan Ward, the fourth-grader who spoke about his passion for sports.
Then came the girls’ turn. One difference between boys and girls is emotion. Sometimes this can work to their advantage. The girls were, well just girls. Some of them were witty, while others were shy, and yet others were directed. Their passions ranged from reading, communication, dancing, alternative medicine, stopping pet abuse, human trafficking, social justice, technology, swimming, faith, designing and building airplanes and helping people. One girl gave the definition of stopping human trafficking as giving hope and stopping pain. Our dancers described dancing as telling a story that can change someone’s thoughts, while another girl said that every great dream begins with a dreamer. Thanking God for the life she lives is another girl’s passion who said she wants to be an Olympic swimmer. While yet another spoke about advances in technology and how the positive affect of creating brings about hopes and dreams.
Amanda Bryant was the high school winner of her age group. Mace Rose was the third runner-up. Sophia Contino was the second runner-up. The first-place winner went to Lauren Bigler who describes her passion as creativity and advances in technology.
It was a long but satisfying and rewarding evening. From year to year it is exciting for all of us who are involved in the Optimist Club to see these young people shine and we hope that this yearly event helps shape and mold their futures. For more information about the Windsor Optimist Club go to www.windsoroptimistclub.org.
Every year we recruit volunteers from the community to judge our contest. Evelyn Kastner lives in Windsor and works for Noble Energy as a division analyst and is very detail oriented. Pastor Todd Everhart is the pastor of the First Methodist Church and has been a pastor for 20 years. Paul Swift lives in Windsor and is a litigator of law. He has 30 years experience in law.
We could not have overwhelming success without the team effort of parents, teachers and the Optimist members.